Register for Beast of the Brazos: Saturday, September 7th

Emma Cartisano

In 2020, I moved to Waco for a doctoral program at Baylor in Higher Education. Adjusting to a new city and the demands of my program took a toll on my mental health—leaving me feeling lonely and insecure.

I entered the Waco fitness community to meet people and discovered the benefits extended beyond friendship. When I pushed myself in the gym or while training for races, I realized the same life principles helped me get through the hard(est) days of grad school—picking myself up after getting knocked down, cheering on peers, and realizing that others’ success poses no threat to my own. As I connected with community engagement work in Waco, I started healing wounds rooted in my own basic needs insecurities and loneliness. These two spaces helped me find my people, and Waco began feeling like home.

I’ve dreamed of completing an Ironman 70.3 for years. TEAM Waco provides an opportunity—offering group support and a platform to share my story. Too often, we’re held back by limiting beliefs or feel ashamed of our story. I hope to model the potential for connection, healing, and joy that comes from sharing vulnerably. I’ve been inspired by people who look like me doing things I dream, of and I want to offer the same hope to others in McLennan County—showing what’s possible when hard work and opportunity converge.

Thanks To Our Upcoming Partners